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January 6, 2007 / TildeWill

New Job Hopefully

Last week I interviewed with a company called Passageways here in West Lafayette, IN. It is a small company that makes web-based portal software for financial institutions (primarily credit unions). They got their start when PEFCU (my bank) gave them the money to start a company based off the software the co-founders created as students at Purdue. The company is now about fifteen employees and is hiring several new employees to bring that number up to twenty or so.

The VP of Product Development was the guy who interviewed me along with the head software developer. Both guys are young (aka my age-ish) so that’s a big plus right off the bat. Next the job is in town and would be doing the thing I love, web-based software development. One of the big things this company seems to do very well is “Best Practices”. They emphasize those practices to their customers who develop new modules to tie in to their products and they have a whole list of awards they themselves have received for their own methodologies. Even the VP I interviewed with had recently been honored as one of the top 40 Young professionals by the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

So as we go through the interview my eyes grow wide like a kid in a candy shop as they continue to talk about things like Extreme Programming, Pair Programming, Agile Project Management Methodologies, and tools like SourceControl. All of these things are what makes for a kick ass developing environment in my opinion and this company is the right size to make really good use of them. I felt a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve only had the opportunity to implement SourceControl at my last job and have never been privy to an environment with any kind of programming methodology that I didn’t have to establish myself.

So today I did some research. I had an idea of what Extreme Programming (XP) wasn’t, but I didn’t really know what it was. I knew it wasn’t just “quick and dirty programming”. What I didn’t know was that it is more “extreme” in the sense that is is a highly flexible style, one that accommodates for scope changes as you go instead of countless revisions. It gains speed by slowing down and creating check points for the customers and prevents developers from getting too far ahead of themselves. I can’t wait to use XP.

Pair Programming is a bit different. Usually lumped in with XP somehow, it’s more than just working in a two developer team. Instead, one developer types while the other thinks about the bigger picture and provides feedback on the code. Developers are encouraged to pass the keyboard at least every thirty minutes. The idea being that one developer keeps the other on task just by being there (less web surfing, IM, email, etc.) and the collaboration leads to faster development and higher quality results with fewer bugs and greater efficiency. What is really crazy is that studies show that two people working this way on one computer accomplish more than two people working alone on their own computer. I must admit if this is indeed the type of programming that is to take place I’m both excited and nervous. On one hand I want to be able to come in and take my time learning the ropes and not slowing people down, on the other hand I see it as a great way to learn and strengthen my own skill set in a very short time frame.  

During the interview I was asked to do some coding on paper. I hate coding on paper because I always need to go back and add something in that I don’t have space for. So I’m drawing lines and arrows all over the place and everything is hard to read. Then I also have at least three to four languages floating around in my head at any given time (Java, JavaScript, C, C++, C#, VBScript, VB, VB.Net, PHP, [PL]SQL, HTML, XML, CSS, Perl are all regularly used), so my paper code always comes out as some weird soup of those. The concepts are always the same, it just looks funny.

In the end I didn’t end up asking about salary because realistically I’d happily accept any competitive salary working at a place that is as great as Passageways. I hope that they didn’t take my not asking as a sign of disinterest, but rather as a comfort with all the non-financial benefits the company has to offer.

EDIT: I should hear back from the VP early this week.

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2 Comments

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  1. lina / Jan 8 2007 3:00 pm

    I hope you hear back. It sounds like a sexy op.

  2. Josette / Jan 8 2007 7:23 pm

    That sounds hot.

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